BOSTON -- Curt Schilling is a winner, a workhorse and a
fanatic about preparation.
And, even better: He isn't afraid of the New York Yankees.
The Boston Red Sox acquired the 37-year-old right-hander from
the Diamondbacks after he waived his no-trade clause and agreed to
a deal that guarantees him $37.5 million over the next three years.
With an option for 2007, he has four years to win a championship
in Boston like he did in Arizona, when he brushed aside the vaunted
Yankees tradition and beat them in the 2001 World Series.
"I like the thought of playing in the biggest rivalry in sports
in front of some incredible fans," Schilling said. "I have been a
part of a Yankee matchup with other clubs, but the Yankee-Red Sox
rivalry transcends sports. It's so much bigger than everything else
in sports. Being a part of that was certainly an attraction to all
Schilling's desire to take on the Yankees has already made him a
hero in Boston, which has waited since 1918 for the Red Sox to win
it all while watching their hated rivals take home 26 titles. The
five-time All-Star also comes to town as an innings-eater and a
strikeout machine who will join Pedro Martinez in one of baseball's
most formidable rotations.
"It's very rare when an organization has a chance to acquire a
player at the right moment in time with the right team already in
place," said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, who spent
Thanksgiving Day trying to get Schilling to return to the team that
first drafted him in 1986.
"Curt brings a certain attitude that can't do anything but
really help a ballclub, and it bring us to the next level. He's
aggressive. He's intelligent. He's ambitious. He wills himself to
He also has the potential to connect with Red Sox fans in a way
Martinez and Roger Clemens -- not to mention Ted Williams, Carl
Yastrzemski and Jim Rice -- never did.
As the Boston front office huddled over the faltering
negotiations Thursday night, Schilling was in a chat room with two
dozen Red Sox fans trying to convince them he was not trying to
squeeze the team for every last dime (and that he was who he said
Schilling had a 1.69 ERA against the Yankees and shared Series
MVP honors with Diamondbacks co-ace Randy Johnson. Red Sox
president Larry Lucchino declined to comment when asked whether
Schilling's history against the Yankees influenced the team's
decision to go after him, but he acknowledged that it didn't hurt.
"We've upgraded our pitching rotation, so we have improved our
position in THE RIVALRY," Lucchino said Saturday in an e-mail
message to The Associated Press. "They remain, however, the
defending AL champions and we the hungry underdogs."
The Yankees just got hungrier.
The defending AL champs are reportedly close to landing
outfielder Gary Sheffield, and the loss of Schilling could prompt
them to increase their efforts to re-sign lefty Andy Pettitte.
Until then, the Red Sox have what could be baseball's best
rotation to go with the record-setting offense that helped them win
a wild-card berth in 2003 and advance to the AL championship series
against the Yankees. It was there, in the seventh game, that they
found themselves a pitcher short.
Manager Grady Little opted to trust Martinez, who said he could
stay in, instead of his sometimes shaky bullpen. The Yankees tied
it off the tiring three-time Cy Young winner, then won in 11
innings to advance to the World Series, where they lost to the
Florida Marlins; Little's contract was not renewed.
Asked what he would have done if he had been in Martinez's
situation, Schilling said his managers know better than to ask for
"If you're going to take me out during a game, take me out,"
he said. "Don't ask me how I feel, because the competitive nature
tends to make me believe that, regardless of who you bring in,
they're not going to have the stuff that I have."
Boston and Arizona worked out a deal Monday to exchange
Schilling for lefty Casey Fossum, righty Brandon Lyon and two minor
leaguers. But Schilling wanted a contract extension before he
waived the no-trade clause in his current deal.
A baseball source speaking on condition of anonymity told The
Associated Press that Schilling's new contract, which folded in the
$12 million he was to receive in 2004, guarantees him $12.5 million
in 2005 and $13 million in 2006. It also includes a $13 million
option for 2007 that could become guaranteed if Schilling meets
specified performance levels, the source said.
The new deal does not have a no-trade clause.